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H-1B Visa Reform Would Have At Least Made Sense

Let me preface this post by saying: “I’m not for amnesty, just sanity.”

While largely dead for the rest of the 2013-14 congressional calendar, there were some things I personally would have liked to have seen touched in an immigration package or separate bill.  (You know, that piecemeal approach talked about, but apparently not going to be tried.)

At the top of that list is “H-1B Visa Reform.”

“H-1B” is, like most visas issued by the State Department, one of a variety of work visas granted to immigrants who are temporary workers inside the United States.  H-1B’s are a specialty type of visa which only are available to the following qualifications:

  1. You must be a foreign national.
  2. You must have already earned a college degree.
  3. Said degree must be in a career related to what are called “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields.

The visas last for three years and can be renewed for another three for a total of six years; and with their employers sponsorship, they can gain citize That stay can be up to ten years, only if you are working for a defense contractor.  They are highly-coveted by technology firms in Silicon Valley such as Google, IBM, Facebook and Oracle.

Annually, 65,000 new H-1Bs are issued, with an additional 20,000 to eligible immigrants already in the country who getting their college degrees. Estimations are that since the program began around 2,000, over 850,000 H-1Bs have been issued.

So why reform them and what to do?  The common answer — accepted on both sides — has been to lift the annual quota.  Why? Because the world is a competitive workplace, and despite constant interest in computer sciences and IT, America isn’t generating enough of them fast enough.  Also, other nations also have substantial technology sectors themselves and will grab up these wouldbe employees.

In the most recent podcast episode for the center-right website Ricochet, renowned political analyst Michael Barone told a story of how a Canadian diplomat prayed that America didn’t change its immigration policy towards high-skilled workers (the ones sought through the H-1B program) because then all these folks could come to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.  British Columbia is well-known to be the high-tech hub matching its neighbors south of the border in Washington State and Silicon Valley.

It is this exact thing which makes the immigration debate as a whole so frustrating.  While we’re fighting over what is clearly a horrific Senate bill, both sides need to take a moment, figure out where there is actual consensus on immigration — like visa reform, which has nothing to do with amnesty much if at all — and craft a bill.

Anyone who still demands a full, “comprehensive approach” (Chuck Schumer, I’m looking at you.) should be barred from the room.  Hammer out something that works, not just for those getting the H-1Bs’, but for the U.S. economy as well.

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Cartoon of the Day

While there weren’t as many responses as Joe Heller mocks in this cartoon, I completely agree the take. Why does “The Tea Party” need its own response? It’s redundant and sends a mixed message and only gives the media ammo of a “GOP Civil War” on the way.

And anyone thinking Rand Paul’s personal response wasn’t self-serving and only intended as a possible launching pad for 2016 clearly hasn’t been paying attention.

Look, I’m not asking us to all be reading in sync, but can we at least be on the same page?


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RNC Approves New 2016 Nomination Rules 153 to 9

Huge win for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on this consolidation of the schedule.  This ends the all-out scramble that had been going on is past presidential years by some states (Like Florida…) to make sure “they mattered” when it came to picking a party’s nominee.

The next step, and this will take a rare moment of political sanity between both the DNC and RNC, is a series of rotating regional primaries.  We’re almost there already, but the idea of having all New England states voting on one day makes a lot more sense than the piecemeal shuffle of one state in the Midwest and another in the Pacific Northwest on the same day.

Also, it would allow for more bus tours in multiple states, which voters typically like (and campaigns like because they’re cheaper on budgets).

The Republican National Committee on Friday voted to significantly compress its presidential nominating calendar and to move its nominating convention earlier in the summer of 2016.

The full committee voted at its annual winter meeting to approve a new rules package that would allow the four regular early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to hold their nominating contests in February 2016 and penalize other states that might try to move their contests earlier than March 1.

In both the 2008 and 2012 nominating contests, states anxious to be one of the first contests have pushed the nominating calendar into early January. The result in 2012 was a long, sometimes nasty primary process that Republicans think hurt their chances of winning the presidency.

While the old calendar stretched six months from early January to late June — and was competitive for about half that span — the new one is intended to be as much as three months shorter — from early February to April or May.

Perhaps even more telling are the penalties the RNC will hand down to state parties and their delegations which try to jump in line.

* States that hold nominating contests between March 1 and March 14 must allocate their delegates proportionally rather than on a winner-take-all basis. States generally prefer the winner-take-all method (in order to have more influence and draw more interest from candidates), so the rule is designed to discourage the other 46 states from holding all their contests in early March.

(Wisconsin is a “winner-take-all” state during GOP primaries, the Dems used to have a proportional distribution based on congressional district. That might have changed after the 2008 race.)

* States must select their delegates at least 45 days prior to the convention, rather than the previous 35. This, combined with the earlier convention, should significantly tighten the primary schedule on the back end. In 2012, primaries were held as late as June.

(The current 2016 RNC Convention is scheduled for sometime around August June.  No city has been announced yet as the site.)

* Penalties for states moving in February or January will be more serious than in the past. While the committee previously stripped them of half their delegates, they will now lose more than that, in most cases. States with at least 30 delegates would be left with just 12 representatives at the convention, while states with less than 30 delegates would have nine.

(Florida, you’ve been warned…)

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Cartoon of the Day


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RSLC Buys up Dot GOP Domain

This is a costly move, but in today’s modern world of political cyber-squatting, a necessary evil.  If the Republican National Committee or sister committee doesn’t lock it down, chances are in today’s “Take-No-Prisoners'” online political war, your enemies will.

But this not cheap.  A friend I know tells me that locking down a domain runs about a cool half-million; which is why it is rarely done.   However, since your organization now has oversight over a domain, you can make up that money over time by charging around $25 to $50 a URL to candidates, committees and other loyal entities.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that focuses on electing Republicans to state-level offices, won custody of the domain in the spring after an Internet governing body invited groups to vie for hundreds of new domains.

Now, in a plan first shared with POLITICO, the committee is soliciting information from Republicans interested in having .gop sites. It is operating on an internal timeline that would allow those sites to get up and running by the first quarter of 2014.

“At the RSLC, we do pride ourselves on trying to look a little further down the road and take a longer view of things,” Chairman Ed Gillespie said in an interview, citing work the committee already does to recruit local candidates who may rise into the ranks of the national party one day. “I think we’re well positioned for that.”

The domain project fits into that vision, Gillespie said, because it can potentially “foster a broader sense of community” for Republicans on the Internet and boost GOP branding through sites such as news.gop or polling.gop.

Most people and groups seeking sites with .gop domains will be able to register them in “real time,” said President Chris Jankowski in a statement. “But certain names that are especially relevant to our community are subject to a different process for registration which is standard industry practice.”

The committee is also working on a selection process to ensure that no mischief-makers will be able to get their hands on “.gop” domains.  A move that not only makes sense, but would be crucial.

Last thing you want to have happen is a porn site floating out there with a “.gop” domain.

Now the question remains is which campaigns for 2014 will be the first to spend $50 for what is essentially a vanity URL.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Democrats Running the DNC Like the Federal Government…in the Red

This could come back and haunt a whole mess of state parties come November 2014.

(No wonder Mike Tate is pushing for a self-financing candidate to run against Gov. Scott Walker.  There’s not going to be a ton of help from D.C. if these numbers hold up.)

The Republican National Committee raised $2 million more than the Democratic National Committee during July and sits on $12 million in cash, while the DNC has a net balance of $14 million in debt.

The Republican National Committee reported receipts of $5,859,144 and disbursements of $6,330,364 in July, leaving $12,267,525 cash on hand as of July 31, and no debts.

The committee raised $3.1 million from contributors giving $200 or less and itemized $2.5 million from donors giving more than $200. PACs gave $36,000.


The DNC Services Corp./Democratic National Committee reported receipts of $3,858,625 and disbursements of $5,386,438 in July, leaving $4,143,852 cash on hand as of July 31, with debts of $18,466,369.

The committee raised $2.1 million from contributors giving $200 or less, and $1,458,577 from those giving more than $200. PACs and other committee gave $190,909.

In the DNC’s defense, they did send over $1M to a number of state parties, none of which were identified.  Also to the saving grace of Democrats, idiotic temper tantrums led by Tea Party groups have given the DCCC and DSCC a fund raising lead for 2014 against their GOP counterparts, the NRCC and NRSC.

The committees should be announcing new fund raising numbers during the rest of the week.

UPDATE: Already in for July, the DSCC outraised the NRSC by a margin of $3.4M to the NRSC’s $2.7M.  So far for the cycle, the DSCC has raised over $30M while the NRSC has raised around $20M.

Cash on Hand totals for the committee have not yet been released.

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Erick Erickson Has Officially Lost it

I was willing to give him a pass for 2012 and backing Mark Neumann.

But how the hell do defend — let alone forgive and then endorse for a run for Congress — an admitted liar, adulterer and God only knows what else in former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford?

Conservatives take the hardest line and exile their own who have failed them to the sidelines.

They should. We have values and when those values are betrayed by those who fight with us, we must often show them tough love and show them the door.

But we do a terrible job with forgiveness and rehabilitation. Mark Sanford walked out of the Governor’s Mansion and out of public life for a while. He comes back as conservatives in Congress are fighting on all fronts, out numbered, depressed, and needing every man capable of manning the ramparts.

Mark Sanford can man the ramparts. Unlike his opponents, he has a stellar and uncompromising record as a limited government, pro-life, fiscal conservative.

I am willing to forgive him. And I’m willing to be graceful. We need him. There’s no better alternative. He’s with us. I endorse him without reservation. I hope the voters of South Carolina will show him grace and put him back in the fight at this desperate hour for fiscal conservatives.

Erick Erickson’s mind has officially gone for a trip on the Appalachian Trail…

We don’t “need him” as Erick puts it.  We don’t need him to be used by the media as a punchline, as a reminder to his past deeds, to be heralded as an example of “GOP Hypocrisy” in the realm of family values and other social planks of the party.

There are no doubt any number of strong, viable candidates in what is an overwhelmingly GOP-majority Congressional District.

Since this is for a House seat in South Carolina, I can only fathom what else is going on in the background knowing some of the players Erickson is known to meet with behind the scenes.

Last week I got chastised by some for being too rough on Erickson in my piece on RightWisconsin.  Honestly, I left him off the hook for a few other things I’ve heard about via rumors.  I at least have the stones to know a wannabe charleton and point him out when I see one,  not sure I can say the same about those who went after me last week.

Don’t know about them, but I take it as a matter of pride that my invites to the annual RedState Gathering are “lost in the mail.”   Having Erickson endorse Sanford for Congress only confirms he’s only looking out for himself most of the time, not the movement, not the party.  Just himself, his website and his radio show in Atlanta.

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DeMint to Leave Senate, Takeover at Heritage Foundation

Not surprised, but shocked as well for a few reasons.

South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint will replace Ed Feulner as president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. DeMint will leave his post as South Carolina’s junior senator in early January to take control of the Washington think tank, which has an annual budget of about $80 million.

Sen. DeMint’s departure means that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will name a successor, who will have to run in a special election in 2014. In that year, both Mr. DeMint’s replacement and Sen. Lindsey Graham will be running for reelection in South Carolina.

Mr. DeMint was reelected to a second term in 2010. The 61-year-old senator had announced earlier that he would not seek a third term.

Mr. Feulner, who is 71 and planned to step down, is to be named chancellor of Heritage, a new position, and will continue in a part-time capacity as chairman of the foundation’s Asian Studies Center.

In an interview preceding the succession announcement, Sen. DeMint said he is taking the Heritage job because he sees it as a vehicle to popularize conservative ideas in a way that connects with a broader public. “This is an urgent time,” the senator said, “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.” Mr. DeMint, who was a market researcher before he entered politics, said he plans to take the Heritage Foundation’s traditional research plus that of think tanks at the state level and “translate those policy papers into real-life demonstrations of things that work.” He said, “We want to figure out what works at the local and state level” and give those models national attention.

Mr. DeMint, an active conservative partisan often at odds with his party’s leadership, says he will “protect the integrity of Heritage’s research and not politicize the policy component. Heritage is not just another grassroots political group.”

Still, the senator acknowledges that the political fires still burn: “This really gets my blood going again thinking about the possibilities. This is the time to elevate the conservative cause.”

Sen. DeMint plans to join Heritage in the first week of January, before the new session of Congress begins.

I had heard from friends still at Heritage that Dr. Feulner was looking for a graceful way to step aside.  He has led the Heritage Foundation since its founding in 1973, and his leadership has helped make Heritage the think tank for the conservative movement.

My one concern with DeMint is that he is known to try to have his hands in things he probably shouldn’t and by that I mean GOP Senate primaries.  His “Senate Conservatives Fund” (which I’m guessing he’ll have to suspend or leave) was known for getting involved in races — many of which ended badly in 2012 — and ticking off the NRSC.

Heritage doesn’t need to get drawn into that.  Heritage is bigger than the pettiness of that.  It’s prestige is more important than that.

In the time of the announcement of the WSJ story, I’ve reached out to a few friends at Heritage and they’ve told that believe that Heritage will still be the same, great think tank it has always been.  My hope is, that is true.

An all-staff meeting is supposed to be going on later, with a possible Foundry post explaining what a post-Feulner, Demint-led Heritage Foundation looks like.

UPDATE: Here’s the link from Heritage announcing the news.

UPDATE II: John Podhoretz points out my concerns with this news as it means to the future of the movement knowing DeMint’s temperament.

The temptation for DeMint will be to stress the institution’s role in opposition, which is his stock in trade as a senator, and to downgrade its policy role, which has had its major “up”s (welfare reform) and its blind-spot “down”s (advocating a health-care mandate in 1994). But if ideas do not play the central role, Heritage will hollow itself out, and that would be a great shame. Ed Feulner stands as one of the great public-policy innovators of the 20th century; it would be thrilling if the same could be said of Jim DeMint when he passes on the mantle to his successor.


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The “Take a Swing” Comment in Context

In my honest opinion, far too much is being made out of this news.

Mitt Romney’s oldest son joked in a radio interview Wednesday his preferred method of dealing with a combative President Barack Obama was to “take a swing” at his dad’s rival.

Asked on the Bill LuMaye radio show what it’s like “to hear the President of the United States call your dad a liar,” Tagg Romney joked about his fantasy response.

“Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him,” he said. “But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that’s the nature of the process. You know they’re going to try to do anything they can do to make my dad into something he’s not.”

(Bit of a Wisconsin connection there.  Bill LuMaye used to have a radio show up in Green Bay before moving on to North Carolina.)

Anyone who’s ever worked on a campaign — which is why I found Jim Rowen so idiotic with his take, or was the only swinging involved with Norquist going on with Figueroa — knows that the people who are going to be on the toughest emotional rollercoaster ride will be the spouse and kids of the candidates.  They are the ones who have to stand silent as their husband/wife/father/mother is attacked in TV ads, lampooned on blogs, and chastised in the press; and all they can do is sit there like a rock and take it.

The first thing any campaign manager knows that upon introducing yourself to the candidate’s family is telling them it is going to get ugly.  That they’ll grow a thick skin since what’s about to go through the wringer and looking at some of the toughest days they may ever have in their lives.

Every campaign has its full share of stories about the candidate’s family snapping into profanity-laced tirades at stories in the press behind the scenes and you’re never going to hear them.  Why?  Because every staffer understands that if the roles were reversed, they’d be doing the same.

Like say, this woman was in 2008.

[Michelle Obama’s] pride visibly chafes at being asked to subsume her personality, to make herself seem duller and less independent than she is, even in the service of getting her husband elected President of the United States. In Wisconsin, I asked her if she was offended by Bill Clinton’s use of the phrase ‘fairytale’ to describe her husband’s characterisation of his position on the Iraq war. At first, Obama responded with a curt ‘No’. But, after a few seconds, she affected a funny voice. ‘I want to rip his eyes out!’ she said, clawing at the air with her fingernails. One of her advisers gave her a nervous look. ‘Kidding!’ Obama said. ‘See, this is what gets me into trouble.’

People are human, sometimes they need to blow a little steam.

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